JAMESTOWN RESIDENCY Here are some paintings from last week’s residency in Jamestown, Rhode Island.
The residency, titled Visual Development, was juried and led by abstract artist Theresa Girard, who brought eleven of us together from Chicago, Florida, New York state, and New England for a week of painting in a huge, warehouse-like room at the Jamestown Art Center.
We gathered each morning between 8:30 and 9, and after a brief meeting to discuss some aspect of painting we retreated to our respective wall spaces to paint, including Theresa. A few people listened to music through earphones, but for the most part the spacious room was silent except for the swish of brushes, the scrape of palette knives, and the occasional staccato of a staple or nail being banged into the wall. The energy of so many people working so intently in one place was contagious.
We were there to work, and work we did, with an occasional suggestion or word of encouragement from Theresa and each other, and the incentive of an exhibit of our best paintings Friday evening. Except for a lunch break, we painted until about 4 or 4:30, side-by-side, hanging or pinning our canvases along three sides of the 20-foot-high white walls. The fourth wall had tall windows that brought in plenty of light.
For me, it was a week of experimentation, including the medium, acrylic rather than my more familiar but slow drying oils. The majority of us painted with acrylics; but a few used oils, and several worked with mixed media.
Many of the others were purely abstract painters, drawing their inspiration from within, creating moods through shape, line, and color. For painters like Christina Rotelli and me, “abstract realism” would be a more accurate description, since the source of our inspiration can usually be found in the natural world. We take this interest in different directions; Christina’s beautiful still lifes with flowers are clearly recognizable if not representational, while my gaze is more obscure, directed inward, but often in response to an objective source.
For two days, Theresa’s friend and assistant, Kevin Gilmore, painted with us and offered one-on-one feedback. The high point of the week came at the end, with a visit from Theresa’s mentor, Al Lachman. If you are not familiar with Al’s stunning body of work — I wasn’t — it is definitely worth a visit to his website, if not his gallery in New Hope, Pennsylvania. He paints in many styles, including abstract realism, particularly his series on barns, giving it special resonance with me. He spoke to us both individually and as a group over two days, and his kind, quiet, way of offering advice and his vast body of work are an inspiration.
Four of us who stayed at the Lionel Champlin Guest House — Dana Killion, Judith Podell, Tammy Keller Staab, and me — spent many additional hours together, on the half-mile walk to and from the center, at breakfast, lunch, and dinner, evenings on the inn’s spacious front porch, and at a group dinner with Theresa and Al at week’s end.
It was an exceptional week, and an exceptional group, and we all left filled with ideas and raring to go as we return to our studios. The other painters were Melanie Delgado, Janelle Feigley, Sky Hoyt, Linnea Toney Leeming, and Virginia Purviance. Check them out!